Friday Morning Check-In

Jeez, it always seems amazing to me just how many missionaries there are in Romania.

Today’s first one is an American Do Gooder helping out somewhere near Suceava in (Romanian) Moldova.

Probably her oddest post is about carving pumpkins into faces. Although pumpkins (and related squashes) do grow here and do get ripe around this time of year and often are eaten, carving them into faces isn’t exactly a Romanian tradition.

It’s also kind of a Halloween thing to do, which I thought missionaries didn’t celebrate, but what do I know? Bizarre quote from the post:

Ana taught this lesson: we are like pumpkins. God chooses us, washes us clean, He takes away our sins (the seeds), He transforms us (carving a face) and He puts a light in us.

All I can say in response is (carved) pumpkins are dead and rot extremely quickly. The “sins” (seeds) are what grows the next generation of pumpkins so perhaps this isn’t exactly the best analogy ;)

From here comes another missionary blog. He’s on his way to Romania (via a grueling flight) and is from Utah so I’m guessing he’s a Mormon.

Just like I warned, he’s also tenaciously learning the language. And it seems he enjoys the food here:

I’m also quite happy to eat REAL food (and flipping good food too) in Romania, such as shoarmas and sarmales. Yummy.

Seems like everyone likes the shaoarma, jeez!

Switching gears, I found this blog from a Romanian now living in the United States.

As he just returned to the USA from a visit to Romania, his perspective is quite illuminating:

The economic and political situations are very bleak. Even financially well positioned people are disappointed with the present and pessimist about the future. More and more people find out that they cannot afford to have a decent life.

Do you have any idea what eating crappy food, at best, and not eating at all does to the human body long term?

My general impression is that everybody is in a boat that’s both drifting and slowly sinking at the same time. The few that try to do something about it are almost immediately pulled back into the “melting pot” by the rest. The majority.

That’s a little muddy but clearly I’ve spoken about the topic in the second paragraph.

I also found this blog entry from a former missionary, writing about something I personally can definitely understand:

Over ten years ago I heard God asking me to step out. To fly. Not metaphorically but literally. He was asking me to get on a plane and fly to Romania. Not Ohio, but Romania. The Romania that is over there across the ocean. The ocean….that place where you really can’t land a plane. But this time, I said ‘yes’.

It was a big, fat, scary yes, but a yes all the same. It took prayer, friends, and Xanax to ‘git ‘er done’. It was one of the hardest things I have ever done but also one of the most life changing. That one decision opened up a world to me that I could have only imagined before.

Except for the fact that I’m not from Ohio and don’t eat Xanax and I’m not here as part of any “ministry”, I could’ve written those exact words myself.

It’s interesting how powerful this country truly is, and the effect it has on people!

And last but not least, from this blog that has exactly one entry:

Once, when I was living in Romania, I was walking along the road, and a guy started calling after a dog in Romanian. And you may not believe this, because people for some reason think cats are smarter than dogs, but that dog totally understood him. He turned around and went to that man and sat down.

The dog spoke Romanian..

Wonders will never cease.

I have to laugh because clearly my cats don’t “speak” any human language. Yet it never fails to amaze me that they seem to actually respond better to Romanian than they do to English (or Spanish or Hungarian).

How can this be? Clearly they’re just ordinary “house cats” and okay they were born here but 99% of their life has been with me. How can they “understand” Romanian?

My personal theory is that Romanians being such an agricultural and rural people, they learned certain tones and sounds that animals respond to. It isn’t like Noodles (my cat) is sitting there recognizing the subjunctive tense of the verb “to be”, it’s that the Romanians are making certain sounds the cats respond to.

For instance, the word for “cat” in Romanian is pisica (PEE-see-kuh) and quite often shorted to pisi, where the “s” in that sound is very syllibant or enunciated to be more plosive.

In other words, it’s more of a “hissed” sound and in fact Romanians often cluck and hiss at cats in a certain way and it definitely seems to work. That’s the weird part.

My veterinarian speaks to the cats in Hungarian with no effect but then again the cats are super frightened so perhaps in a more relaxed situation, the cats would “understand” Hungarian as well.

BTW, one of the most fun games you can play with any two languages, not just Romanian and English, is asking a native speaker what the sounds are that an animal makes.

Hearing a Romanian make the “sound a dog makes” always makes me grin because it’s hilarious.


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